Piggott Picnic Plans and Cemetery Improvements Complete
The 90th edition of the Piggott Fourth of July Picnic is set for Tuesday, July 4, and this year's theme is “We Salute Veterans.” The picnic is held each Independence Day in support of the continued maintenance and upkeep of the Piggott Cemetery. First started as a “dinner on the grounds” fundraiser, it has grown into an event which regularly brings thousands of visitors to the region.
The annual picnic also serves a good cause, as the funds generated each year are used to maintain the community cemetery which has been in use since the late 1800s. Recently, the cemetery association has strived to make improvements, including the addition of a golf cart for carrying people to gravesite services, and a complete renovation of the historic steps to the old Lorance section.
Bud Holcomb and his crew took on the project of renovating the steps, removing all the old stones to allow them to re-pour one of the steps which had deteriorated.
“We took down all the blocks and poured a new top step,” Holcomb said of the project. “We even found a fourth step that no one knew existed, since it had been buried for a long time.”
Assisting the former Piggott mayor with the project were Donnie Holcomb, Caleb Holcomb, Jacob Holcomb and Rodney Besserman. Over the course of several days they completely dismantled the steps, and re-built them, which should insure they'll be around for another 100-plus year.
Cemetery Assocation president Fred Ort noted the project is just one of the efforts underway.
“Legend has it that a young girl, whose family was travelling along the Old Military Road, died here and she was the first person buried in what is now our cemetery,” he explained. “The grave is supposed to be under the column on the right, so they were very carefull not to disturb the ground there—just remove the blocks and replace them with new mortar.”
During the renovation process the crew did all they could to maintain the aged look of the blocks, which included an effort not to disturb the moss growing on them. The project was completed shortly after the Memorial Day holiday.
“We've also acquired a golf cart, and had it fitted with a special rail, to help people get back and forth from grave sites,” he added. “A lot of people can't walk that far, and one recent funeral we had five people that we transported. Me, or (caretaker) J.W. (Toombs) will be available for all funerals that might need the service.”
Ort is also spearheading a number of money-saving measures, including the eradication of weeds from the cemetery grounds.
“Weeds grow a lot faster than grass, and if we can kill the weeds we can cut mowing by at least one or two times a year,” he explained. “That can add up to some big savings.”
He also reported to those on hand for the annual business meeting that the extra acreage around the cemetery is being allowed to grow-up this summer, which will allow them to cut and sell hay to further benefit the association.
“We have enough money in the bank to keep the cemetery up for many years to come, but we need to be looking further down the road,” he explained. “It's not good enough to have enough funds to keep it up for the next 20 or 25 years, we need to be looking much further ahead.”
This year's picnic, to benefit the Piggott Cemetery Association, will kick-off on Monday, July 3, with the first three pageants of the week as Young Junior Miss, Young Miss and Mrs. Piggott are crowned. There will also be an armband promotion on the midway.
In keeping with tradition, the annual parade will roll through the streets of Piggott beginning at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 4. Afterward, the usual opening ceremonies will be held at the beauty revue stand, followed by speeches from political candidates and office holders.
A full slate of pageants is on tap for the Fourth of July, beginning at 11:30 a.m. with the baby contest and continuing through late evening, as Miss Piggott is crowned for 2017. This year's main attraction on Tuesday evening will be a live performance by the band Fault Line.
Also scheduled to perform throughout the day are, the PHS Marching Mohawk Band, gospel music with Bro. Chris and Laura Brantley and guests and Tim Roberts and his harmonica. Additional entertainers will be announced at a later date.
To wrap-up the two days of activities, the annual fireworks display will be held at 10 p.m., followed by the drawings for three $5,000 prizes at 10:30. Tickets for the drawings are available from cemetery association board members and will be on sale at the picnic grounds both Monday evening and Tuesday.